The Little Texan that Could

by PBA Editor November 18, 2006 19:00
In an epic battle between the Big Fin and the Little Texan, five-foot-six, 128-pound Norm Duke turned out to be the giant on Sunday.

Duke moved into a tie for ninth on the all-time Denny’s PBA Tour titles list by defeating six-foot-four Finland native Mika Koivuniemi, 236-233, to capture the 2006 Lake County Indiana Classic at Stardust Bowl I for his 24th career Tour title.

The 42-year-old also became the first bowler to go 14-0 in winning a Denny’s PBA Tour title. He went 12-0 in match play Friday, and won two matches Sunday to surpass the previous record held by Chris Hayden (2003) and Randy Pedersen (2002), who both went 10-0 in match play and won two matches in the finals to go 12-0.

“I was 35 pins down when I switched to a ball I hadn’t doubled with all week, but I had to make a change,” said the Texas native, who changed balls and moved inside in the 5th frame after throwing straight all week. “I made an errant shot in the 10th frame, but the one in the 11th was pure as the driven snow.

Duke came back from a big deficit in the title match, falling behind early with just one strike in the first five frames, while Koivuniemi struck in the first three frames. After the 2003-04 PBA Player of the Year had spares in frames 4-7, Duke responded with six consecutive strikes to force Koivuniemi to double in the 10th. Koivuniemi struck with his first ball in the 10th, but left a 9-pin on his next shot to give Duke the win.

Both Koivuniemi and Duke just missed out on history in their respective semifinal matches as each came close to becoming the first bowler ever to shoot two televised 300 games in their career.

Koivuniemi had the first eight strikes in his match against Steve Rogers, who at 42 years old was making his first career TV appearance after qualifying for the event through Wednesday’s Tour Qualifying Round. A spare in the 9th frame after leaving the 3-6-9-10 was all that kept Koivuniemi from perfection, as he closed out the match with three strikes for a 276-194 win.

Duke, meanwhile, struck in 11 of 12 frames in defeating Michael Haugen Jr., 279-233. The 23-time titlist started the match with two strikes before leaving a 10-pin and converting the spare in the 3rd frame. Haugen started with four consecutive strikes, but a 4-7-9 split and an open in the 5th frame was all Duke needed. He closed out the match with nine consecutive strikes to advance to the title match.

Duke (Clermont, Fla.) earned $25,000 and an exemption for the 2007-08 season. Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) took home $13,000 for second, Haugen (Cave Creek, Ariz.) earned $6,500 for third and Rogers (Bourbonnais, Ill.) earned $5,500 for fourth.

The Denny’s PBA Tour moves to Vernon Hills, Ill., for the 2006 Discover® Card Windy City Classic, Nov. 23-27, at Hawthorn Lanes. The live ESPN televised finals take place Sunday, Nov. 27, at 1 p.m. EST.

Denny’s PBA Tour
2006 Lake County Indiana Classic
Stardust Bowl I
Hammond, Ind.
Sunday, Nov. 19


Pos.Name, hometownTotal/GamesMoney
1.Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla.515 (2 games)$25,000
2.Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich.509 (2 games)$13,000
3.Michael Haugen Jr., Cave Creek, Ariz.233 (1 game)$6,500
4.Steve Rogers, Bourbonnais, Ill.194 (1 game)$5,500

SCORES – In the first match, Duke def. Haugen, 279-233; in the second match, Koivuniemi defeated Rogers, 276-194; and in the final, Duke def. Koivuniemi, 236-233.

This is Duke’s 24th career Denny’s PBA Tour title.
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